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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/27/16

Machiavelli On Leadership and Power, Part III of a Series, with Reflections from 2016

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Jose Figueres Ferrer | president of Costa Rica |
Jose Figueres Ferrer | president of Costa Rica |
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Meet Jose Figueres Ferrer, President of Costa Rica in 1948, who most of the world thanks as the man who transformed Costa Rica into the peaceful, progressive, affluent, and well educated nation it is now, despite being surrounded by fratricidal nations replete with coups and American manipulation of governments, the rest of the Central American nations so full of tragedies in their histories.

Leadership and Power": Well-ordered Republics, in assigning Rewards and Punishments, never balance One against the Other."

--- Discourse 24

A summary of Discourses 19 -- 24

To establish or reestablish a good government requires a strong leader dedicated to the good of the nation. When it is absolutely necessary to maintain unity in the nation, the leader must be willing and able to use excessive force, brutality, and break laws to persevere order. The leaders must do what is necessary to preserve unity and order, but no more. Leaders are responsible for maintaining sufficient strength of arms to insure the state's safety from external attacks, and for maintaining sufficient arms to discourage any challenge.

When peace and order are present, the leaders can turn their attention to the general well-being of their citizens. Two weak leaders in succession open the possibility for corruption to undermine the government. Then there will be a significant increase in disorder and a weakening of the republic.

The health of a republic requires that good deeds and leaders be rewarded and bad deeds be brought to judgment; heroes and leaders should not be excused from judgment for their bad behavior. When a person who has served the state well commits a crime, the facts of his past good should not be a consideration in making judgment about the crime.

Contemporary Reflections:

Machiavelli believed that a strong personal commitment to the welfare of the state by a strong leader would require being brutal when necessary. In George W. Bush and Barack Obama, we have had two weak presidents unwilling or unable to stop the economic corruption (Dick Cheney, as de facto acting president, was a strong force for his own economic gain and for the kind of economic corruption which lacks any commitment to the ideal of a republic).

Both Machiavelli and Alexis de Tocqueville have written that a strong, good moral character in the leaders of a republic is necessary for a republic to prosper. In the 1948 coup d'etat in Costa Rica's Calderon government, the clash of forces brought about the formation of a republic with a lasting democratic government.

President Calderon was elected as a right-wing president in 1940. He was a strong supporter of the United States in the Second World War and took aim at the German business community in Costa Rica. He lost his right-wing support but formed a coalition with the Communists. The constitution prevented him from running for a second term, so he backed a weak communist president with the plan that he would return to the presidency in 1948.

Jose Figueres Ferrer was a businessman who was exiled to Mexico by Calderon. He hated Calderon , and when he returned to Costa Rica during the communist government, he didn't trust the government. He believed that a war was a possibility and therefore formed a militia of 700 very diverse people: anti-communists, right-wingers, economic conservatives, and social-democrat intellectuals. The United States was very ambivalent about Figueres' militia, but he forced himself remain quiet until two events compelled him to act.

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Mr. Webster is a 90 year-old retired math teacher who taught for over 30 years. He was the director of an alternative public high school program. He has a BS from the Institute of Design, Chicago and an Ms (math) from the Illinois Institute of (more...)
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